UK enjoys second highest retail sales growth in the EU27

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The UK's retail sales growth was the second highest in the EU27 in May 2013, increasing by 2.8 per cent from a month earlier, second only to Finland (with an increase of 3.6 per cent).

The only member states not to experience monthly retail trade growth were Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, down a respective three, 0.4 and 0.3 per cent.

Retail sales across the EU27 increased by 1.2 per cent from the previous month, and by 0.5 per cent from the year before, according to the data from Eurostat.

In the euro area, meanwhile, retail sales fell by 0.1 per cent in May compared to 12 months earlier. This follows a year-on-year fall of 1.1 per cent in April and 2.2 per cent in March.

Between April and May 2013, retail sales rose by one per cent, following a 0.5 per cent fall from March 2013. Analysts had expected a fall of two per cent year-on-year and a rise of 0.2 per cent month-on-month.

Sales of food, drinks and tobacco in the euro area increased by 0.9 per cent, and by 1.5 per cent in the EU27. Non-food sales were up 0.9 per cent and 1.0 per cent in each respective zone.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, says that May's one per cent monthly increase in retail sales volumes in the euro area may indicate that improving consumer confidence and the boost to purchasing power from low inflation (1.4 per cent in May, 1.6 per cent in June) is beginning to lift spending.

However, he adds that is still seems "unrealistic to expect a marked overall pick up in Eurozone consumer spenindg in the near term at least", as confidence is limited and fundamentals unfavourable (referring to high and rising unemployment and limited purchasing power).

Source: Eurostat